For several years, at a commercial site north of Indianapolis, there were scenes of "chickens running around with their heads cut off," as one worker put it. No, this was not one of the Hoosier state's 800-plus poultry farms, but rather a plastic-components making plant in Noblesville, Indiana.
The most frantic flailing-about, figuratively, at the Metro Plastics Technologies factory was associated with the daily forklift gauntlet run by the plant's pair of material handlers who were constantly darting to and from the plant's 25 molding presses.
"It seemed almost sacrilegious to even think this way, being here in the heartland, but we wanted more automation," said Ken Hahn, president of Metro Plastics which traces its origins back to the mid-1970s. Today, the company employs 125 people and, as of last year, one autonomous mobile robot.
Metro Plastics did replace some hourly positions with the robot, which cost under $50,000, Hahn said. But the company also added a full-time (better paying) automation position; material handlers, meanwhile, "can now focus on the process," he added.
Read the full story, "With robotics, manufacturers have an opportunity to boost workforce morale," at forbes.com.
See also: "The robot maintenance you're missing" and "Help still wanted: Manufacturers struggle to fill open jobs" at PlantServices.com